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COVID-19 V.I. Timeline

The Source COVID-19 V.I. Timeline is a chronological log of some of the events that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic to the present endemic. 

2019

Dec. 31 – The World Health Organization in China receives official notification of cluster of pneumonia-like cases of unknown origin in Wuhan province

2020

Jan. 10 – WHO uses the term 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV to describe new illness

Jan. 13 – Thailand confirms first COVID-19 case outside China

Jan. 20 – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms first U.S. case in Washington State

Jan. 30 – CDC confirms first U.S. case of community spread in Illinois

January – Virgin Islands Health Department begins testing symptomatic patients

Feb. 2 – V.I. health officials say still no cases in territory; WHO reports confirmed cases in 37 countries

Late February – Stock market falls sharply; travel industry begins to falter; some Caribbean ports turn cruise ships away over COVID fears

March 13 – First V.I. case confirmed; Governor declares State of Emergency, cancels St. Patrick’s Day Parade, calls for calm; Court cancels jury trials indefinitely; Licensing freezes prices of masks, sanitizers and other COVID-related products

March 14 – CDC issues No Sail Order to cruise ships in U.S. waters

March 16 – Social distancing adjustments include WAPA and Oriental Bank urging customers to seek services online or by phone; USVI Soccer Association suspends events for 30 days

March 19 – Moravian Church Virgin Islands Conference suspends activities “until further notice”

March 20 – Vitran temporarily suspends regular bus service

Mid-March – Tim Duncan Foundation becomes one of the first in a long line of organizations, businesses and individuals donating to COVID-related causes

March 21 – Funeral homes in territory begin limiting funeral services to close relatives

March 21 – Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. orders 30-day moratorium on hotel bookings; V.I. Health Department confirms first case of community spread

March 27 – Legislature holds emergency session to pass bills to soften COVID’s economic blow

March 28 – Festivals Division airs music session on Facebook as first of virtual Carnival activities

March 31 – The four airlines regularly serving the territory slash flights

First week of April – Governor closes beaches, extends Stay at Home order to end of month; Census 2020 halts field work; at governor’s invitation, boats turned out of the British Virgin Islands crowd USVI bays; Broadband VI launches free mobile app to help deal with increased electronic traffic; National Guard begins helping to screen arrivals at airports

April 6 – First COVID-related death in the territory reported

April 7 – Banks and loan services ordered to pause penalties for late mortgage payments

April 8 – Education announces schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year

April 12 – Easter Sunday is greeted by shuttered churches

April 21 – Board of Elections asks Legislature to expand absentee voting

April 24 – Governor announces a phased reopening will begin May 4, later says reopening will be June 1

May 27 – Health reports no hospitalizations and more than 500 negative tests in past week

June 1 – Territory reopens for visitors; restrictions loosened on bars, restaurants, public gatherings; Census field work resumes

Mid to late June – Cases climb

July 2 – Governor reports 98 active cases, announces tighter restrictions, orders beaches to close at 4 p.m. over the holiday weekend to discourage large parties; St. John Celebration is virtual

July 13 – Governor orders closure of bars, restaurants, casinos and gambling parlors; says school reopening delayed from Aug. 10 to “at least” Sept. 8; orders travelers from 12 “hot spot” states to quarantine

July 16 – CDC announces extension of cruise ship NO Sail order through Sept. 30

July 29 – As the movie industry hits pause, Caribbean Cinemas announces it is closing its V.I. operations indefinitely

Aug. 13 – Governor orders non-essential government employees to work from home; Health reports positive cases up 40 percent from previous week, from 501 to 704; Education says when schools reopen, it will be for virtual learning only

Aug. 14 – Washington Post article says V.I. has highest number of cases per capita in the nation –  35 per 100,000 people, while the national average was 16 per 100,000

Aug. 25 – The New York Times lists the territory as a hot spot, reporting cases now at 224 per capita

Aug. 27 – Human Services reports four residents of its Queen Louise Home for the Aged have died of Covid; 12 had been hospitalized

Sept. 12 – After shutting down in August, the V.I. reopens to visitors

Oct. 6 – At request, Legislature extends State of Emergency another 60 days

Oct. 30 – CDC lifts No Sail order, but ships not expected to return immediately

Nov. 2 – West Indian Company reduces its work week from 40 to 24 hours in effort to cut costs but maintain workers until the anticipated return of cruise ships in January

Nov. 4 – Governor says bars and nightclubs can reopen with some restrictions Nov. 9

Nov. 23 – Crucian Christmas Festival to be virtual

Dec. 1 – Labor reports it has received more than 17,000 applications for unemployment benefits in the past 10 months; normally, it provides benefits to about 300 annually.

Mid-December – The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine becomes available in the territory; about 500 residents get a shot in the first week

2021

Jan. 5 – Education announces virtual learning will resume Jan. 7 and starting Jan. 25, some students will begin hybrid learning (but that was delayed)

Jan. 15 – At meeting of Magens Bay Authority Board, members air concerns over the large number of yachts anchored “temporarily” in the bay, with some boaters abusing their access to beach facilities and trash services

Feb. 3 – In Zoomed meeting of V.I. Government Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation Territorial Board, representatives of both hospitals report staffing shortages becoming critical

Feb. 12 – Education officials tell Legislative committee that several factors are delaying a partial return to in-person learning, including a lack of personal protection equipment and that fact that some parents rely on school buses, which are not operating during the pandemic

March 1 – V.I. Delegate Stacey Plaskett announces the American Rescue Plan includes $584 million for the territory

March 2 – Public school students in grades pre-K through third start to attend in-person classes on St. Croix, with school day shortened from six to four hours.

March 3 – V.I. Housing Finance Authority tells Legislature it will soon begin taking applications from residents seeking relief from the $21 million in federal funding that it received for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program

March 4 – To help accommodate the 200 vessels registered in the territory since the pandemic began, the Legislature ratifies a minor CZM permit allowing for the installation of 100 additional anchored moorings

April 6 – Governor writes CDC asking it to open US ports to cruise ships; CDC says ships can start coming in mid-July

April 30 – In otherwise virtual Carnival, the government hosts one in-person event featuring live music and open to only 200 vaccinated and masked residents

June 8 – Governor writes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis urging him to back off his opposition to cruise lines requiring their passengers show proof of vaccination

June 12 – Legislature announces it has resumed in-person testimony

June 25 – Health confirms presence of Alpha or “U.K.” variant in territory, a COVID strain estimated to be between 40 percent and 80 percent more contagious than the original virus

July 6 – A cruise ship docks at Crown Bay on St. Thomas, the first since in the territory in more than a year, but regular ship stops are still months away

July 9 – Governor ups the ante for vaccine incentive, announcing weekly lottery prize of $100,000 in each district for 10 weeks for vaccinated residents

July 21 – Health confirms the presence of the Delta variant, a strain even more contagious than the Alpha variant

July 23 – Governor goes on TV to warn of COVID surge; there are 188 active cases and there have been 35 deaths – three of them in the last 72 hours

Aug. 3 – CDC designates the territory as “very high” risk and a destination to avoid

Aug. 6 – V.I. Hospitals and Health Facilities Corp. announces all people doing business at its facilities and all staff must be vaccinated, or face termination

Aug. 9- About 30 students and staff of the University of the Virgin Islands stage protests in both districts against a UVI vaccine mandate

Aug. 18 – The Celebrity Equinox calls at Frederiksted, the first cruise ship on St. Croix since February 2020

Aug. 23 – The Frederiksted Health Care board votes to mandate vaccines for employees

Mid-August – The Federal Communication Commission gives $345,566 to the hospital on St. Croix in support of telehealth services

Sept. 24 – The moratorium on evictions is extended through 2021; vehicle inspections for private vehicles suspended until March 15; restrictions removed on the number of people who can attend funerals

Sept. 18 – Sen. Marvin Blyden attends crowed event while he was under quarantine directive because of a positive test, sparking condemnation from fellow senators

Dec. 27 – Governor tells public it’s obvious (though not yet confirmed) the highly contagious Omicron variant has reached the territory as the number of active cases went from 72 to 544 in the previous week; reinstates some restrictions, cancels the few live events that were scheduled for the Crucian Christmas Festival; says schools reopening may be postponed (later it is pushed from Jan. 10 to Jan. 24)

2022

Jan. 31 – Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach delivers sobering news of 100th COVID death, but also says case numbers declining; travel restrictions eased; vaccination rate still low

March 19 – Crucians hold joyous St. Patrick’s Day Parade after two years of having to skip it

March 28 – Headline reads “ . . .  COVID Numbers Remain Low . . . ”

April 17 – Headline reads “ . . . Current Rise in COVID-19 Cases”

April 18 – Campers head to beach on St. Croix, reinstating the Easter holiday tradition they had to forego for two years

April 20 – Gov. Bryan tests positive

April 27 – Crowd-pleasing Food Fair returns on St. Thomas, although Carnival is still a pared-down version of the annual weeks-long celebration

April 28 – Lt. Gov. Roach tests positive

May 5 – Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory tests positive

May 27 – V.I. Health Department says it has been working for more than a year with V.I. Waste Management Authority on efforts to monitor Covid through analysis of wastewater

June 16 – Governor says, “we have moved solidly into the endemic phase of COVID-19.”

June 18 – CDC announces vaccines available for people as young as six months

June 30 – State of Emergency ends; Bryan says it allows for “an orderly winding down” of COVID protocols

July 18 – Health officials say cases rising, two more-resistant virus strains, BA.4 and BA.5, circulating in the territory

July 25 – Superior and V.I. Supreme Court announce “transition from pandemic to endemic phase,” allowing for proceedings to be either virtual or in-person

Mid-August – Cruise lines lift vaccination requirement for passengers

Aug. 12 – Health urges people to get children vaccinated against COVID along with other childhood vaccinations

Oct. 17 – Headline: “No Storms, Less COVID, Government House Says”

Nov. 7 – Headline: “Government House: COVID Cases Rise . . . ”

2023

Jan. 9 – Bryan tests positive, quarantines with mild case

Jan. 17 – Positivity rate jumps to 18.85 percent; there are 289 active cases, as compared with the first week in November when they ranged from 44 to 61

Feb. 27 – Infectious disease expert Dr. Tai Hunte-Ceasar calls long COVID “a major public health concern” and once again urges vaccination

March 6 – With cases declining and federal funding gone, Health temporarily halts free drive-through testing, looks for local funding

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